Temporary add-on loading coming to Firefox - gHacks Tech News

Temporary add-on loading coming to Firefox

Andy McKay, Engineering Manager at Mozilla, announced yesterday on the official add-ons blog that Mozilla would implement temporary add-on loading in its Firefox web browser.

Now why would the organization do such a thing? One major change to the add-on system of Firefox that hit Firefox 43 was the add-on signing enforcement.

All versions of Firefox ship with a switch that allows users to disable the enforcement so that they can load and run unsigned extensions in the browser. This will change in the future (likely Firefox 45) for Firefox Stable and Beta versions as Mozilla plans to remove that option from those browsers.

The change impacts not only users of the browser but also add-on developers. Considering that testing is a large part of the add-on creation process, not being able to test unsigned add-ons in Firefox Stable or Beta would seriously hinder and delay the development process.

Firefox Load Temporary add-ons

Temporary add-on loading is Mozilla's solution to the problem. Starting with Firefox 45, Firefox will support an option to load an add-on temporarily in the browser.

firefox load temporary add-on

The feature is aimed at developers who need to test their add-ons on Firefox Stable and Beta versions, but can be used by anyone using Firefox.

To load temporary add-ons in Firefox, do the following:

  1. Load about:debugging#addons in the Firefox address bar.
  2. Click on the "Load Temporary Add-on" button on the page that opens.
  3. Select a Firefox .xpi file from the local system that you want to load and click open afterwards. You can load a file from the add-on directory instead to load the extension.

The selected add-on is added to Firefox automatically without installation prompt. It is listed under Extensions on the page, and will remain enabled for the length of the browsing session. Once you restart the browser, it is removed automatically again and won't be available anymore until you load it again in the browser.

The new temporary add-on feature bypasses the add-on signing restrictions that are in place in Firefox allowing you to load unsigned extensions in the browser.

Since add-ons are loaded only for the session, it is not really of use to Firefox users who want to keep on using unsigned extensions without switching to Firefox Developer Edition or Firefox Nightly.

One big issue of the approach that Mozilla has not mentioned is that the method won't work for add-ons that require a restart of the browser.

The solution is not ideal, and if Mozilla would look over at how Google handles these things, it should probably consider bringing Google's Developer Mode feature to Firefox instead. This would be far more developer and user-friendly than what is created right now.

Summary
Temporary add-on loading coming to Firefox
Article Name
Temporary add-on loading coming to Firefox
Description
Mozilla announced that temporary add-on loading will come to Firefox to give developers options to test unsigned add-ons in the web browser.
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Comments

  1. juju said on December 24, 2015 at 1:25 pm
    Reply

    I wonder if Andy McKay is real or fake name? very short. Sounds like PORN name

  2. Danny Shin said on December 24, 2015 at 1:30 pm
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    What a stupid and pointless idea, if it only keeps the addons for the duration of one browsing session.

    1. Cygnif said on December 24, 2015 at 3:15 pm
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      Indeed. Just leave it as it is allready.

      1. Jeff said on December 24, 2015 at 8:56 pm
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        This is why I’m sticking why FF 42 until the wheels fall off. I’m getting tired of these companies taking more and more control away from the end user.

      2. Appster said on December 28, 2015 at 8:19 pm
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        @Jeff:
        If you don’t mind setting “xpinstall.signatures.required” to “false” you may want to switch to Firefox 45 ESR once it becomes available. The ESR versions will keep this option in about:config while the normal release versions will lose it starting with Firefox 44. Out of security concerns you may wish to switch to ESR instead of running an outdated browser.

  3. Tom Hawack said on December 24, 2015 at 2:18 pm
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    Doesn’t the add-on signing restriction become mandatory with Firefox 44 rather than 45?

    As for this Temporary add-on loading work-around, it will certainly appear valuable for developers but for users there is obviously no point in having to re-install a non-signed add-on at every start of Firefox.

    On another hand I’d be interested to know if this Temporary add-on loading feature will be made available for signed add-ons, in this that it would allow testing an add-on before installing it definitely or not. If so the feature would have, from the users point of view, at least this advantage.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on December 24, 2015 at 6:08 pm
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      Tom, Andy McKay mentioned that the switch will be in Firefox 43 and 44, so it appears that Mozilla changed that.

      1. Tom Hawack said on December 24, 2015 at 7:14 pm
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        Great, that would mean another 6 weeks of tranquility :)

        !llA oT samtsirhC yrreM

      2. justakiwi said on December 24, 2015 at 11:23 pm
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        FF 43.0.2 is already out, so is it going to be in this release?

      3. Martin Brinkmann said on December 25, 2015 at 8:20 am
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        No, not in this one.

  4. Maelish said on December 24, 2015 at 4:31 pm
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    Its an interesting idea. Pretty useful for developers.

  5. Joe said on December 24, 2015 at 11:08 pm
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    This is all so lame and stupid…CHROME has asked me to thank you for bringing them another CHROME user….so long Fire Faux….you’ve lost another loyal user….

  6. Don Gateley said on December 25, 2015 at 12:11 am
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    Mozilla continues it’s War On Users. I can only imagine that they are trying for some kind of security clearance so that they can push the browser into federal nooks and cranny’s that currently prohibit it and earn big bucks from that. They see increasing their market with normal users as a lost cause so leave current users in the dust in order to get some of those federal dollars.

    Dev 45.0a2 breaks Session Manager which is my most important add-on so I guess I’ve reached the end of the road with Mozilla at Dev 44.0a2 having started with Netscape Navigator. It’s sure been a fun ride. :-(

  7. xjcass said on December 25, 2015 at 4:08 am
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    In the latest Firefox update, I noticed it blocked my Kaspersky extension and left me with No a/v protection!!!
    I solved the problem by switching to IE11.

    1. John said on December 25, 2015 at 1:29 pm
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      Lol, you would be better off with chrome then. IE11 I would not call a “problem solver”.

  8. Jack said on December 26, 2015 at 6:30 pm
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    Quote – “The solution is not ideal, and if Mozilla would look over at how Google handles these things, it should probably consider bringing Google’s Developer Mode feature to Firefox instead. This would be far more developer and user-friendly than what is created right now.”

    Isn’t that what Aurora is for? I run Aurora on all of my machines (Windows and Linux) and have done for many years without problems. The easiest way around the signing “dilemma” is simply to run the Aurora version and disable signature checking.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on December 26, 2015 at 6:49 pm
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      Aurora is for development that is correct, but you need to test your add-ons using the Stable version as well, and that is a problem.

  9. wonton said on December 28, 2015 at 2:09 am
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    closer & closer to chrome they come
    soon the time come they be 1 by 1
    soon mozilla be done and chrome won.

    after all these changes soon they will ether sell out to google or merge firefox as the new chrome too many of firefox core developers want to go work for google & chrome this clearly is been shown in the junk they call firefox now what happened to the browser i loved so much how they have fallen.

  10. Appster said on December 28, 2015 at 8:26 pm
    Reply

    If you want to run unsigned extensions permanently you have 2 options left:
    1) Switch to Firefox ESR which will keep “xpinstall.signatures.required” in about:config. If you set this to “false” via double click you can run all the unsigned extensions you like.
    2) Try a 3rd Party Build like Waterfox. The developer removed the Add-On Signing requirement completely from this browser.

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